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tv   The Communicators  CSPAN  November 30, 2013 6:30pm-7:01pm EST

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is a long and rich tradition of social media that goes back to the era of cicero, the fifth century bc. if you have one, goes faster. you can actually do it in the old days. cicero did it with papyrus scrolls. others were linked to him, and spoke to each other in a social environment. other examples occur throughout history. .artin luther use the pamphlets poetry in the court of and berlin. tom payne and his pamphlet of common sense. there are many examples. i'm arguing that when we use social media today, it is a reversion to what media operated like centuries before us. >> the distinct between
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letterwriting and the conversation was further blurred by the custom of dictating outgoing letters described and having incoming letters read aloud. you were someone like cicero or caesar, you would have ascribed. caesar was famous for being able to dictate to letters at once. you would be dictating letters to them. you would have a staff of messengers who would carry these messages to your friends. incoming messages brought a scroll. romans like cicero and caesar were capable of reading and writing. they got more done if they use describes. the role played by scribes and messengers, most of her slaves, is akin to the role that broadband plays for us today. the reason why we can do social media that is very tweet -- cheap and fast. when the romans it was also cheap and fast. they had slavery.
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it was cheaper than it had been before. the romans were a literate society. they were able to have this social media ecosystem where they passed messages to each other several times a day. it looked familiar for people to use twitter and facebook today. >> what were the wax tablet to talk about? >> the romans had these devices which are extraordinary. if you were sending a message within the city of rome, rather than using a piece of papyrus, you might use a black tablet -- a wax tablet, which was reusable. you would scratch her message using a stylus, and send this message by messenger across the city, and the recipient would answer underneath, and it would be brought to you. it was roman texting. it was used as a notepad. people learn to write using these things. likelook astonishingly
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ipads. they are the same shape and size. there are examples of murals or people are the patent holding what looks like smartphones or little smartphones that use styluses. they were using these wax tablets as notebooks. it is one of these unexpected connections between the way we do things today and the way the romans did in 2000 years ago. >> to talk about the fact of the romans had their brown -- had their own "lol." >> there was not much space to write on these tablets or papyrus. if you wanted to write a longer letter, you could glue them together. it was easier to use and one. there was a premium on space. they use abbreviations. one was spd.
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sends greetings to. that in fourt say or five letters and you can get on with the important part of the message. it was similar to the way we use abbreviations in tweets and texts today. >> martin luther, you write that he had revealed the power of a decentralized person-to-person media system. >> he is interesting. he is 15 centuries after cicero. , he is a what he does theologian and the town of [inaudible] he thinks the catholic church is these piecessaying of paper they get you out of purgatory, they are selling these things to raise money to
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fund the construction of st. peter's basilica. he thinks this is dodgy. he thinks this is unacceptable. he brought up a list of reasons why he disagreed with them. 95 of them in latin. here the things we should debate. he pens this to the door of the church. that is how you announce the debate. people read them and go this is hot stuff. so far, this is the same sort of thing. hase the romans, gutenberg invented the printing press. a couple of printers get a hold of this list. people want to hear about this. a print 1000 copies each. they are taking to other towns and printed there. that he of 95 reasons
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wants to debate, they spread throughout germany within two weeks. this is absolutely astonishing. luther is a maze. -- luther is amazed. if he wants to take his message a reformed to the public, he can have it distributed in this way without having to do much. he follows up with pamphlets written in german. more people would be able to understand them. andrites this straight form under --me people are he writes this in straight form in german so people are able to understand him. towns too nearby printers there. they print another thousand copies. it ripples. he does this for several years. he wages this campaign using pamphlets and preaching. essentially he is using the fact
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that the printers in the audience are collectively have a fine his message. they are interested in what he has to say. they are handling distribution for them, recommending them to their friends. can get this kind of viral spread. we recognize that on the internet. that is what martin luther took advantage of. the result was the reformation. >> how does that differ with mass media? >> the differences that when you have a social media system, whether it is today on the internet or in the old days, a social media system is a two-way conversational environment in which people are passing stuff directly to and from their friends. you are changing information along social networks. that is what we call it social media. this creates a distributed discussion or community.
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at is what it looks like. we are with that on facebook and twitter. we see stuff from people that we followed. the difference with mass media that it is a one-way. it is impersonal. it is top down broadcast. the radio sits in the corner of the room. it is not social. you're not having conversations with it. there is no networking or personal recommendations. we have come to think of these channels which can reach a broad audience efficiently as old media. the way media always was. and that social media is a change. news from our friends. you do not need be an editor or the head of the tv channel to decide what messages going to spread. actually this is how people work in the era before mass media.
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it is a recent invention. he gets going in the second half of the 19th century. we have come to see that as the way media always was. if you live before that, before old media, actually it looks very familiar. it is social. romans to the french revolution. the thesis of the book is that social media is a reversion to the way things used to be and therefore we can learn from the old social media system that came before. many questions we have a social and the impact of public discourse, whether it is a waste of time, these are modern questions. -- theyse in the press rose in the past. chapter,ite in your
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you talk about 1579 in england trying to restrict some of the systems. >> exactly. we understand that when an embarrassing video or something like that gets out on the internet, and people try and people trying take it down, you can't do it. center, there no is just interconnected things. it is hard to control. .e see this after luther after he has caused the split in the church, the revocations per politics and religion in europe. think this is bad news. we defined way to control this. they start imposing controls on the press and say that you can't own a printing press unless you own a license from the government. all documents have to be checked before they can be printed. immediately the system fails to work. there are ways of getting around
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license requirements. you can do things when you're given a license to print it on the you can say document anyway. you can list a different printer from the one that printed it. you can print under a pseudonym. you get this fight between decentralized nature of the media environment and the desire to centralize and control it by government. phenomenon ofs a the internet era. it is going on in the 1500s. tom standage is a best- selling author. what is your day job? >> i'm a digital editor at "the economist." it is my job to work out how we should be best using digital
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platforms. part of that is what led to my interest in historical social media. toentially we are returning the way that things used to work. economists came out of pamphleteers and discussions. there is a lot we can learn from modern news organizations by looking at history and how we should do with changes taking place in the media environment. >> how did tom payne contribute to social media? >> he took advantage of a social media environment that had been mostly constructed by ben franklin. and frankly did two important things. he was the mark zuckerberg of the 18th century. he constructed a platform for social discourse. he was a newspaper publisher among many other things. he was to be deputy postmaster general for the american
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colonies. he greatly improve the efficiency of the postal service. that was the first thing. he instituted a rule that publishers such as himself could use the postal service for free deliver to their customers and exchange newspapers with editors of other newspapers and other towns. they were very small scale. they were very local social platforms. it is mostly letters from subscribers or speeches, or copied out of other newspapers. this is a very social-local platform. what he does by allowing them to exchange copy with each other, he builds a system, encouraging the spread of information. this assists in the tom paine and others are able to use in
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the run-up to the american revolution to spread the idea that america should become independent. ,om payne writes the pamphlet common sense. it is what happened with luther's pamphlets. it is printed next at it in newspapers. those spread to other towns. people learn across this environment about what he has to say. many papers printed it in full. it was able to ripple throughout the colonies become widely known quickly. then franklin prepares the ground for it. tom payne and other writers were able to use the system to spread the idea of independence was the way forward for america. >> let's move forward in history of little bit. the 1920s. marconi and the rise of hand radio, or amateur radio.
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it was a social medium. if you look at the rise of the 20th century, there were enthusiasts that build radios. that was a transmitter and a receiver. the could do audio. he you had to do more scope. scope had to do more was a way to promote channels. he invented this whole technology. the way to do it was to get your son a radio set. he would communicate with other people. it was all very social. as more and more people did it, and transmitters got more more powerful, that that they were
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all pretty on the same frequency became a problem. the airwaves filled up. the navy wanted to use things but they kept being interrupted by boys playing tricks. companies wanted to use them as well. what happens after the first world war is that radio goes from a social media to a two-way medium, to a tightly controlled one-way broadcast medium. this is interesting. it is familiar looking in social . everyonethis chat room is then. that togoes from being the opposite of that. a one-way broadcast channel that is not social at all. it is the interesting event in this switchover from social to mass media. we are pivoting back to a more social media environment. titanic lead to
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one of the first regulations of the airwaves. why? >> this is because of the growing problem that boys who had builtsiasts powerful transmitters, were going to cause problems with things like rescuing sick people from sinking ships. it wasn't true that the use of amateur radio hampered the rescue efforts. it was a convenient story for the white star line after the disaster. when it went down and transmissions were underway, it was like breaking news on twitter. everything goes nuts on twitter. the whole of the east coast lit up with radio transmitters, have you heard what is going on? there was misinformation passed around. it didn't actually hamper the rescue effort. that was flawed for other reasons.
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it was convenient for the owners of the titanic to say it would've been fine if it hadn't been for these guys. in the first few days they use that as their excuse. the white house called the summit. we need to regulate the use of radios. that is the point the shutters come down and it ceases to be a social medium. a titanic is involved in that switchover. >> something our viewers find familiar, rca in the 1920s had the tagline, worldwide wireless. www. it was going to b communications company. telegraphy services. telegrams were sent using wires. toio menu no longer had build an expensive network of reuters -- of wires. you can have a few towers. rca was set up to capitalize on that opportunity.
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european, wasas making great progress. there was concern british companies would end up with a monopoly on this service. there is a very familiar debate. how do you pay for this? rca does it by selling radios. they're using the lower of free broadcasts and content to get people to buy the hardware. once everyone bought the hardware, you're in a replacement cycle. people suck to wonder how they are going to do this. are you going to have a tax on every radio? that is the model we have in britain. you've to pay to the government and the government runs the government broadcast. downerica that didn't go well great advertising was proposed as a way to do that. there was enormous opposition to this. we're going to have to listen to
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ads. reacted to ads on twitter. it is what happened with radio. it turned out to being the way that you sustain that model. we had soap operas and other sorts of things. it is familiar debate for those who use the internet today. 1969, charlie klein and leonard klein rock. what happened? didn't realize it at the time they were establishing the link in what became the modern internet. this was an experimental network. it crashed after two guesses. they were trying to connect ucla to stanford. they were trying to log into one machine. g, the as they pressed
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whole thing crashed. the first attempt to do internet link didn't work. it starts off as alternet. it was built to link together the various computers that were being used for military research purposes. the guys funding this had many of these computers that helped to set up were being used. they wanted to see what was -- theyed on the mall wanted to have a single channel the conceit all of them. they become inherently social communities. users of the mainframe would send messages to each other. you would get more collaborations because they could share that work. if you connected lots of computers together, you would get more collaborations. we see that on a massive scale.
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not just the between researchers, but people in all sorts of different fields. this makes the internet so powerful as a means of stimulating innovation. it allows people with ideas who weren't able to come in to contact with each other to meet. historical parallel to this is what coffeehouses did in the 1600s. they have this rule that anyone can go into them as long as the pot a coffee. if you went into a coffeehouse, you are expected to talk to anyone regardless of social class. in the 16 big deal 70s. he you get these environments where gentlemen board -- you get this environment where gentlemen lords and scoundrels could mix. it is such an alluring environment. you never know who you're going
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to meet. people spent hours in the coffee inp trade it extremely -- the coffee shop. setting upentists the royal society. isaac newton writes his great an argument about the nature of gravity. it turns into lloyd's of london, the first insurance market. the london stock exchange. they turned out to be this great place where you mix people and ideas. that is with the internet does by a lot of people in different places to meet virtually and exchange ideas. >> when you look back to 1969, that first internet message, the growth and change in what we internet, is it faster than in the past? >> yes. it is definitely faster.
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i have to be straightforward. operatingial media is on a scale that is unprecedented in history. it is global. it is instant. it is searchable. it may be permanent. we do not know how permanent it may be. that is definitely unprecedented. the idea that social media environments have never occurred before is not on precedent. they did for many centuries. even though there are these differences, the analogy is informative. the sort of social reactions that you get the social media throughout the centuries, there is a waste of time, that it leads to revolution, they are exactly the sorts of issues the internet and social media today have raise. the analogy isn't perfect. there are things you can do that you couldn't do with papyrus or wax tablets. the similarities are close enough that we can learn lessons by looking at history. >> did you write another possibility that social
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platforms represent a transitional state like aol and compuserve? >> there are something struck him of the way social media is operating on the internet today. if you look at the way e-mail or publishing works, they are based on -- if you not like it it it is looking over your whale -- mail, you can set up your own web server and plug into the internet, and it will work. if you do not want some company like wordpress to host your blog, or whatever you are publishing, you can set up your own web server, and it will work. if you look at the way social media is done, it is done in a centralized way. it is owned by large companies like facebook and twitter. this is different. it is not open and it should be did. i wonder whether that is a permanence.
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this is what happened with aol and compuserve. it looked as if they owned access to the consumer internet. people just bought straight vanilla access to the network itself. they went on the web and used it. they didn't need these .roprietary clients i wonder whether facebook and twitter are the aol icon be served in this story in we will see it play out again. it is difficult to build a douche but in social system that works in a it was a social media discussion system based on open standards. it was slow and they came unyielding. it was too big.
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there is clearly a lot of technical challenges that can be overcome for this to happen. i'm keeping a close eye on .fforts there seems to be a new one to create an open standard for social media and networking. maybe as they were swept away by the open standards of the web, the same could happen to facebook and twitter in the next decade. >> whatever form it takes in the future, one thing is clear. it is not going away. social media is not new. s been around for centuries. microblogs are the new coffeehouses. media sharing sites are the new commonplace books. they are all shared social platforms that enable ideas to travel from one person to another. they're connected by social
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bonds. media has social trivialized public discourse. what is your answer? mainstream realization is another man's democratization. .his happened with literacy the out of that did this. writing systems were complicated and hard to learn. every time there is a way for use toto publish, people be in charge always complain that the wrong people will use this to say the wrong things. a contemporary of luther says that he is worried that everyone is reading these pamphlets that luther is writing that this means nobody is reading the classics anymore. he thinks this is terrible.
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we get this time and time again. we get with twitter now. it is terrible. anyone can say anything. i think this is good. it is broadening access publishing to more and more people. it is democratizing access to publishing. what happens each time he have one of these expansions is that it appears to be completely unmanageable. it takes some time to work out the math ms. him's -- to work out the mechanisms. when the printing press made it easier to publish books, people felt overwhelmed. people came up with these technologies for dealing with it. things like book reviews. tables of content. indexes. to work outyou which books might be relevant to you, and which bits are the bits
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you are looking for. those were invented to make books more easy to navigate. had yahoo! then we had search engines that let you put in keywords. .ow we are using social it is the way the romans did it. they would rely on their friends to tell them the news. stuff is where we're going next. we're going to see hybrids between search and social. this is how we are dealing with the fact that lots of stuff is published. this is how it happened in the past as well. that is what i am expecting to happen. signal weall is the differ from what others regard as the signal.


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